Two of last year’s three NEPSAC champions hail from the Lakes Region in Kimball Union (Elite Tournament) and Tilton (Small School Tournament). Both teams project to be very good again this winter. A third Lakes Region team – Holderness – reached the Small School Tournament title game last winter.
The league will feature two new head coaches with Connor Gorman taking over at New Hampton, and Dan Allen at Vermont Academy.
KIMBALL UNION (30-5-2)
Home Rink: Akerstrom Arena
Winners of three straight New England Elite championships, the Wildcats have high standards to live up to. Be sure that KUA will be in the hunt again, even after graduating 10 seniors from last winter’s title team.
A potent quartet of returning seniors will lead the offensive attack for coach Tim Whitehead. Tomas Mazura, already committed to Providence, will be one of the prep’s premier forwards. Sullivan Mack and Zac Whitehead are primed for big years, as is Paul Dore, the hero of last year’s Elite Tournament championship game. New sophomore Adam Fantilli comes highly-regarded out of Ontario. New sophomore Jaiden Moriello should contribute right away.
On the blue line, cornerstones project to be senior Teddy Griffin and senior Andy Noel. Add to that group new junior Nick Bernardo (a Brown commit) and junior Luca Fantilli, Adam’s brother.
Senior Veeti Kohvakka is a returning netminder. Alaska native and Arizona State commit, new junior Zac Brice, brings his netminding talents to the fold.
Home Rink: MacMorran Field House
The Rams established themselves as a prep school power last winter, winning the New England Small School title. They will be an interesting team to watch in 2019-2020, with an impressive group of newcomers joining the ranks.
Up front, seniors Jack Seymour (44 pts), James Cates (35 pts) and Tae Lee (25 pts), all key members of the last winter’s title club, will be catalysts on offense for coach Brooks McQuade. Senior Jack Mitchell and junior Jack Gray also return. Five post-grads – Max Cocchi, Jon Tavella, Mike Tersoni, Johnny Baker and Max Pineo – all bring impressive resumes and capable of denting the scoresheet each night out. Senior Joe Noone was with Cushing last winter.
Senior and Vermont commit Jagger Benson (32 pts) is a blue-chip two-way rearguard. Seniors Brett Lockhart, Mark Blaney and Justin Greenberg are back as well to give the Rams an experienced blue line corps. Conor Lally and Andrew Woloszyn are ready to contribute.
Senior Justin Lee is a returning goaltender. Sophomore Gavin Kiley will be in the mix as well.
Home Rink: Teddy Maloney Rink
It could be an interesting season for the Hornets, who boast a bunch of returning scoring up front, some good depth on the blue line and what should be solid goaltending.
Goals should not be an issue with the likes of seniors Ronan Walsh (43 pts), Nate Chickering (22 pts) and Cam Joslin (20 pts), teaming with juniors James Tepper (27 pts), Cooper Rice (22 pts) and Grant Porter (17 pts). New senior Kevin Urquhart brings his scoring talents.
On defense, senior T.J. Beaver and sophomore Bryson Martin will be anchors for coach Mike Walsh. The blue line group adds new juniors Trey Chickering and Matt Hynes and sophomore Alex Kesentepe.
Senior Cole Chingris saw the majority of action in the Proctor cage last winter. Junior Michael Gilerman returns as well, giving the Hornets a solid 1-2 punch in the cage.
ST. PAUL’S (17-10-1)
Home Rink: Gordon Rink
As always, good, sound team defense will be instrumental in any success the Big Red has this season. Hope is to also generate some more explosiveness on offense.
Offensive production will center around the junior trio of Joe Schubert (22 pts), Owen Stadheim (18 pts) and Malcolm Bussey (12 pts). Returning sophomores J.T. Halliday and Cooper Flinton look to increase their scoring totals this year. New junior Owen Sweet and sophomore Sam Sibold add to the mix up front.
Senior Harrison Sweet (who could play some at forward), junior Bryson Russell (10 pts), junior Jack Hepp, junior Alex Lavigne and sophomore Jake Sullivan are all back on defense for coach Danny Murphy. New sophomore Caid Cox, a Montana native, looks to contribute.
The Big Red needs to replace the graduated Andy Beran in goal. Returning senior Charlie Murphy is a solid candidate.
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Home Rink: Fiore Rink
With four of their top six blueliners returning, it is safe to say that defense will be a strength this season for the Bulls.
Coach Alan Thompson needs to replace a pair of 50-pt scorers up front. Two key returners will be senior Tim Manning (51 pts) and junior Jake Waterman (18 pts). One of many new faces expected up front will be junior Matteo Turrin. Post-grad Andrew Gotts will be a contributor.
Juniors Carter Rose (20 pts) and Adam McNabney (12 pts) will highlight the Holderness defense. Post-grad Thomas Larson adds his experience to the blue line.
Holderness will have three goaltenders new to the program, one being junior Aiden Belt, a native of Colorado.
NEW HAMPTON (15-16-4)
Home Rink: Jacobson Arena
The Huskies will be under new management this winter, with Connor Gorman taking over the head coaching reins. He says his team needs to play fast, relentless and unselfish hockey and be physical all over the ice.
Seniors will play a big role in the offensive fortunes. The unit is led by Oak MacLeod (40 pts – Dartmouth commit), Marcus Joughin (39 pts), Jack Ring (26 pts) and Cory Morris (30 pts). New juniors Ronny Paragallo and Cole Hipkin and sophomore Alex Lodbell add to the mix.
Four veteran defensemen to build around include Steven Ardagna (12 pts), Adam Shuchart (20 pts), Quinn McClelland and Will Hilfiker, all seniors. Looking for key roles will be junior Zack Goode and freshmen Nathan Novitsky and Jackson Weglarz.
In goal, junior Lucas Brine saw some varsity action a year ago. He will be joined by post-grad Robbie Farrell.
VERMONT ACADEMY (4-24-1)
Home Rink: Choukas Arena
New head coach Dan Allen takes over a squad that struggled a bit last winter. The team will feature a lot of new faces, while relying on returners to be leaders on and off the ice.
At forward, Andrew Peloso projects to be a leader. Post-grads Jack Luzzi and Reily O’Connor, junior Cody White, sophomore Quincy Green and freshman Thor Martin look to crack the lineup.
Senior Charles-Olivier Gagnon will be a defensive anchor for the Wildcats. New senior Chen Zadik and junior Benjamin Potvin will log some minutes.
New junior Mason Kucenski and returning junior Michael Libutti are expected to handle the goaltending chores for the Wildcats.
BREWSTER ACADEMY (9-19-1)
Home Rink: Pop Whalen Arena
A strong core of returning forwards and sound defensive play should be hallmarks of the Bobcats this winter.
Up front, scoring will come from the likes of senior Grant Sikich (22 pts), senior Brett Daubert (20 pts), senior Max Eckstein (16 pts) and junior Brady Hoff (16 pts). Ready to contribute in the forward lines are post-grads Luke Lynn and Rick Gick, new senior Liam Moore and junior Reed Currie.
Strong blue line play is expected from senior Riley McCauley and senior Pete Stanger.
In goal, new junior Sam Livecchi, who coach Mike Doyle feels is a D1 prospect, will be relied on in a big way.